Ever wondered how a bookmaker sets college football season win totals? Recently I read a very good article called Creating a Win Total by Todd Fuhrman, the Race and Sports Analyst at Ceasars Palace in Las Vegas. In the article Todd describes how he goes about setting college football season win totals.
Using the 2012 schedule for USC he illustrates his process of rating each game 0 to 10, with a 10 meaning a virtual lock (a USC win) and 0 implying that USC stood absolutely no chance of winning (needless to say there were no 0’s on the schedule). At the end he “adds up the total and attaches appropriate juice based on intangibles, public perception, and an overall gut feel.”
The overall number he came up with for USC was 103, or 10.3 wins. He then considers is USC more likely to go 11-1, 10-2, or 9-3?
“In my opinion, I believe they’re much more likely to go 10-2 or 11-1 than 9-3 so I’m immediately inclined to start with 10.5 because there are only 2 outcomes in my mind for this season. At this juncture, it then becomes a question of opinion and steering action with my two best options looking like the following”
10 over -150
10.5 Under -160
USC’s current line at 5Dimes is:
Over 9.5 -260
Under 9.5 +180
After I had finished reading the article, which he concludes with some good nuggets of advice, it got me to thinking about the process he used to determine college football season win totals and how it might be applied to other teams.
So I decided to try and emulate this process to determine the season win totals for PAC 12 North favorite Oregon.
Below is Oregon’s 2012 football schedule. The probability I place of winning each game is bolded to the right of each opponent.
Sat, Sep 01 Arkansas State (10)
Sat, Sep 08 Fresno State (10)
Sat, Sep 15 Tennessee State (10)
Sat, Sep 22 Arizona (9)
Sat, Sep 29 vs Washington State (in Seattle) (8)
Sat, Oct 06 Washington (8)
Thu, Oct 18 @ Arizona State (8)
Sat, Oct 27 Colorado (10)
Sat, Nov 03 @ USC (5)
Sat, Nov 10 @ California (6)
Sat, Nov 17 Stanford (8)
Sat, Nov 24 Oregon State (7)
The total I came up with for Oregon is 99, or 9.9 wins for the 2012 season. Oregon’s current line at 5Dimes is:
Over 9.5 (-195)
Under 9.5 (+155)
So my number for Oregon’s season win totals is definitely in the ball park. Using Todd’s process I believe the Ducks are more likely to go 10-2 (or 11-1) than they are to go 9-3.
Arkansas State, Fresno State and Tennessee Tech – with all three games being played in Autzen I cannot see any of these teams having even a remote chance of beating the Ducks.
Arizona – the conference opener for each team and Arizona’s first away game of the season. If the Cats can pull a home upset against Oklahoma State on September 8th, they should be 3-0 and full of confidence. However, with their current personnel and new coaching staff, going into Autzen and beating the Ducks looks like a gargantuan task.
“You know I’ve always liked that word gargantuan. So rarely have an opportunity to use it in a sentence.”
Washington State – Oregon’s first away trip of the season, but still not a true road game as they play the Cougars in Seattle. I like Mike Leach and I like some of the skill players WSU has on offense. But defensively Oregon should have the advantage. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Cougars played them tough, but can’t see them being within striking distance in the end.
Washington – Huskies will be battle tested having gone to Baton Rouge on September 8th and playing Stanford the previous week in Seattle. But once again, this game is at Autzen and is a heated rivalry, so there is no reason why Oregon won’t be prepared to play. Lastly, similar to the Washington State game, I don ‘t have much faith in UW’s defense.
Arizona State – Finally a true road game, and against my beloved Sun Devils no less. Time for the Ducks to taste defeat …….. OK, it sounded good, but I just don’t see it happening. I watched the ASU spring game and if it was at all indicative of this team’s makeup, there will be serious issues on the defensive side of the ball.
Colorado – Seriously? The Fluffs in Autzen? No chance.
USC - MASSIVE GAME. Winner most likely gets the home field advantage for the PAC 12 Championship game and rematch in early December. I rate this game as a coin toss.
California – If the Ducks are going to lose another game on their schedule (besides USC), this is it. Oregon will be coming off a huge game the previous week vs the Trojans., so this could be a big letdown spot. Bears get an extra day to prepare having played UW the previous Friday and the game is in Memorial Stadium, where Cal is typically very tough to beat.
Stanford – Despite the loss of the # 1 pick, I believe Stanford will be a better team than most people expect. Nevertheless, they couldn’t beat the Ducks the last 2 years with Luck at QB, so tough to see them going into Eugene and pulling off the upset.
Oregon State – I went back and forth between a 6 or a 7 here. It is The Civil War and it is in Corvallis. Beavers look to be an improved team and will certainly be pumped up to play their bitter rivals. But I ended up going with a 7 because I don’t think Oregon State is as good as Cal and the Ducks certainly won’t be in the same ideal “letdown” spot that they will be when they travel to Berkeley.
So there you have it. The only team I see on Oregon’s schedule that can match them from a talent perspective is USC. And with that game being in the LA Coliseum, it is the only game I see Oregon NOT being favored in, at least at this early stage in the season.
The Cal game has upset written all over it. That doesn’t mean it will happen, but I believe it will be without a doubt the next toughest game on the Ducks schedule and it would not surprise me in the least if they lost that game.
That’s 10-2. Where is that third loss coming from? Based on what we know right now, finding a third loss on this schedule will require a major upset by one of the middle-tier PAC 12 schools.
So if I were a betting man …….….. Wait a minute …. Never mind. But if I were betting I would go over the 9.5 wins that 5Dimes currently has posted. However, as Todd states at the end of his article “more has to go right for a team to eclipse their win total rather than underachieve and fall short of expectations.” And with juice at -195, I personally wouldn’t touch it.
Let me know what you think of the process and where I may have possibly made an error in projecting Oregon’s season win totals. Also feel free to let me know what methods you use to determine college football season win totals – Pez.